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posted by janrinok on Wednesday January 19, @02:03PM   Printer-friendly
from the umbrella++ dept.

Open Invention Network expands Linux patent protection:

Today, everyone -- yes, even Microsoft -- use Linux and open-source. It's been years since Linux was under attack by SCO for imaginary copyright violations, and then Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer claimed that Linux violated over 200 of Microsoft's patents. So over 15-years ago, the Open Invention Network (OIN) patent consortium was formed to defend Linux against intellectual property (IP) attacks. Even so, Linux and open-source software are still under attack from patent trolls and other attackers. That's where the Open Invention Network (OIN) steps up by expanding its patent non-aggression coverage by updating its Linux System definition.

The OIN, the world's largest patent non-aggression community in history, is adding the following programs and components to the Linux System: .NET, ONNX, tvm, Prometheus, Helm, Notary, Istio, Nix, OpenEmbedded, CoreOS, uClibc-ng, mbed-tls, musl, SPDX, AGL Services, OVN, FuseSoc, Verilator, Flutter, Jasmine, Weex, NodeRED, Eclipse Paho, Californium, Cyclone, and Wakaama, among others. Altogether 337 new software components are being added. This brings the total number of protected packages to 3,730.

Yes, that includes a programming environment, .NET, from Microsoft; Prometheus, the open-source time-series monitoring program; and Helm, the Kubernetes DevOps framework. In short, OIN's protecting parasol against open-source's IP enemies has grown ever wider, ever more protective.

"Linux and open source collaboration continue to thrive as they accelerate the pace of transformation across a spectrum of industries. With this update, we have addressed expansion in key software platforms and projects. Additionally, we have added protection for strategic packages that enable hardware design and embedded applications," said Keith Bergelt, the OIN's CEO.

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  • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Wednesday January 19, @07:35PM (2 children)

    by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday January 19, @07:35PM (#1213912) Journal

    One idea behind patents should be that there is a large R&D cost to producing something and a low cost to duplicating it.

    I could go with that one. It would eliminate patents like "bouncy scrolling" and "slide to unlock" back when Apple was suing every smart phone and tablet manufacturer globally.

    Let's talk about "slide to unlock". Problem setup: you (and your competitors) are making a device that has very few buttons but is mostly controlled by a touch screen. You want to avoid the problem of "butt dialing" (where a phone gets a bunch of buttons pushed and does all kinds of whacky things like sending a text gibberish or dialing someone). Obvious solution: you push one physical button to "wake up", but to prevent "butt dialing", you put something on screen that requires the user to touch something and interact with it. It could be a slide. Or a pattern unlock. Or any kind of on screen widget. But any kind of simple slide would do. The basic problem constrains you to limited solutions.

    Let's not talk about "bouncy scrolling".

    Let's especially not talk about stupid "design patents" where Apple actually argued in a foreign court that "Samsung could have made their screen bezels wider and made their tablet not be so light weight as to infringe on our design".

    I guess the other idea behind patents is the idea that each individual is uniquely special and hence is uniquely capable of coming up with ideas that no one else would ever come up with.

    These ideas are actually solutions to problems. Problems that anyone would similarly face. Problems that others would similarly solve. If you're trying to design a submarine or spacecraft, there are certain problems you will encounter, and are likely to solve those problems in ways that are similar to ways other people would solve those same technical problems.

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 19, @10:50PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 19, @10:50PM (#1213980)

    The point of, and justification for, patents is to encourage bringing valuable innovation to the public at large. It is based on the idea that many people would keep thier innovations secret and/or undeveloped if the patent system did not exist. The US patent system should be judged on how well it is accomplishing this. It appears to me that it is doing the opposite.

    • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Thursday January 20, @03:22PM

      by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Thursday January 20, @03:22PM (#1214178) Journal

      It is based on the idea that many people would keep thier innovations secret and/or undeveloped if the patent system did not exist.

      I think it is predicated only on the idea of monopolists and money.

      1. secrets. People already sometimes use secrecy. It is called trade secret and there is a body of law surrounding this concept. However it is easy to lose the secrecy. Your monopoly advantage may be short lived, so exploit it while the secret lasts.

      2. undeveloped inventions. I'm sorry, but I find this one laughable. The idea that someone realizes they could make a fortune for something genuinely new, yet refuses to do so because others might eventually copy it and take away their monopoly advantage.

      I'm not against the idea that an inventor should have some reasonable length of monopoly advantage to market their invention. It's the definition of reasonable that I have trouble with. In the software world, a twenty year monopoly is an eternity. Also the software world is willing to work about abusive monopolists. Remember Adobe suddenly realizing they had a patent that covered the GIF image format? Then extorting anyone and everyone that uses GIF images on web pages? Thus the PNG format was developed and has largely replaced GIFs. A lot of free and open source software dropped GIF support rather than pay the extortion license fee.

      Out of control 3 yr old grabs steering wheel of limosuine and throws food against wall in temper tantrum.